What a difference a year makes.
Last July, I wrote this FanPost extolling the virtues of a Norifumi Yamamoto-Urijah Faber superfight. Here's how I summed it up:
From my perspective, Emelianenko/Couture is the only dream fight more intriguing. Unlike the heavyweight fight, however, the trans-Pacific kids are both in their physical primes. And with 38 wins and only 2 losses between them, it's a shame we may miss out on it.
Since then, that combined record has fallen to 39-5. Faber's losses, to his credit, came to wrecking machine Mike Brown, the first by brutal KO and the second in a grueling five round decision. Yamamoto, on the other hand, lost a close yet decisive fight to Joe Warren, who came in with only one professional fight under his belt. Following that loss, Korean fighter Jae Hee Cheon, who also came in with one fight - a loss, trainwrecked KID in a K-1 rules bout.
The downfall of Faber and Yamamoto highlights the fickle nature of MMA matchmaking. What was once one of the most sought after fights for hardcore fans now stands as a quaint little matchup. The failed Fedor Emelianenko-Randy Couture serves as another reminder. When Couture dropped his fight at UFC 91, current UFC heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar gained all the momentum with regards to a meeting with the Russian.
Now with Strikeforce's signing of Emelianenko, one has to worry about a super fight with Lesnar being derailed by a loss from either party. By all accounts, it looks unlikely on paper. Lesnar dominates opponents with his size and athleticism and will head into UFC 106 even bigger than an also gigantic Shane Carwin. Emelianenko, meanwhile, has shown no signs of slowing down and will face a less-than-Murderer's-Row of Fabricio Werdum, Brett Rogers, and whatever else Strikeforce can find in the heavyweight division outside of Zuffa's domain.
Yet, I wonder if twelve months from now I will pen an article detailing the failure of Zuffa and Emelianenko's management to come to terms and put the fight together. Lesnar and Emelianenko may be heavy favorites against everyone else at heavyweight, but the nature of being a heavyweight comes with a certain level of variance. When a 250 pound man lands a punch with the right technique, the right force, and on the right spot, even the most sturdy of chins can go down, and all the anticipation, excitement, and glory with them.